Vanquishing a Viator

24th April 2012 – 5.18 pm

I'm up for an opportunistic poke around w-space, although I'm not expecting to hang around for too long tonight. The recurring theme of having two wormholes in the home system is a good start to finding activity, although having our static connection to class 3 w-space today joined by a K162 from a deadly class 6 is not terribly comforting. Like I've done before, I'll head through to C3a to scan an exit to empire space before I risk too much, even if the threat of class 6 w-space can be mostly in the mind.

In our neighbouring class 3 system is a Harbinger battlecruiser and Dramiel frigate, along with a tower, all visible on my directional scanner from the K162. I ought to locate those ships and determine if there are any pilots before I start scanning, and as this is my first visit to the system I have no notes to help me out. I use the old-fashioned method of using d-scan to find the tower, or towers, as I realise I'm looking for two. They are both around the same planet and one of them holds both ships, neither one piloted. I can settle down a little now.

I warp out, launch probes, and start scanning. One anomaly and four signatures makes for a sparse system, and easy scanning. I resolve a ladar site, a battlecruiser, and, um, what? The ship appears on the second signature I choose to scan, which almost certainly makes the signature a wormhole. I resolve it to indeed find a wormhole, then throw my probes out of the system. If my probes picked up the ship then the ship would also have had time to see my probes on d-scan, so rather than impetuously making my spotted probes sparse I thought I may as well see where the ship is coming from first.

The battlecruiser newly appeared in C3a is a Drake, and it warps to the local tower, but not in to the tower's force field. Strangely, the ship lands a fair distance outside of the shields. He's not getting shot and so is probably local, although the pilot belongs to the State War Academy. That's strikes me as odd, but I see that the Dramiel has the same state affiliation, so maybe there's a reason behind it. Either way, the Drake starts crawling towards the tower, just as a Viator abruptly appears inside the force field. I suppose I missed the entrance of the transport ship, which isn't much of a surprise considering that it can warp cloaked.

Maybe the Drake was escorting the Viator from empire space, although that would be a rather waste of resources. Blockade runners are meant to blast past blockades without assistance, much as their name suggests, and dragging a Drake behind you seems to be more of a hindrance than a help. But maybe I've got it backwards and the Viator was scouting for the Drake. That would make some sense, if the wormhole I resolved weren't a K162 from high-sec empire space. I'm not sure how much scouting needs to be done to use a direct connection to high-sec. I'll assume the near-simultaneous appearance of the two pilots to be coincidence.

I have one signature left to resolve and I'm assuming my probes have been spotted. Even if they haven't, the Viator is nestled inside the shields and the Drake's taking his merry time reaching the tower, so I doubt either pilot is watching d-scan closely. I call my probes back in and resolve a second wormhole, the system's static connection to low-sec empire space. Unlike the mass-stressed K162, probably having been used for logistics for a fair part of the evening, the wormhole to low-sec is healthy and stable. I take a look on the other side and appear in a busy system in The Bleak Lands.

Thinking that the only movement I'll see in C3a is between the tower and high-sec, or for the pilots to go off-line, I scan the low-sec system. I may even get lucky, as there are seven signatures dotted under my probes. But all I find is a radar site, some rocks, a magnetometric site, some Blood Raiders, a Mul-Zatath monastery, and another magnetometric site. So much for finding more w-space. At least I can head back and look in the C6 now. I return to w-space and bounce off the tower in C3a just to see what the locals are up to, and arrive in time to see the Viator warp out. Or maybe it was the Drake.

Neither ship is at the tower now, although both remain on d-scan and in the system. And even if the ship warped clear before I could tell which one it was I did manage to get a good view of the direction it warped in. Whichever ship just left, it headed towards a customs office, which is probably why I think it was the Viator. Think, hope, whatever. I press my covert Tengu strategic cruiser in to warp, landing short of the customs office to find not one but both ships there. Maybe the Drake is acting as escort after all, and it could be effective. I doubt I could pop many Drakes in my covert Tengu, certainly none that are even adequately fit, and I don't want to get caught by one configured to catch capsuleer ships. The Viator is a tempting target, but I don't want to die for it.

The Drake poops a jet-can and the Viator scoops it. It could just be walkies time for the Drake, I suppose, but I jest. I'm also watching the Viator's next move, which is to warp away from this customs tower and on to another. Naturally, the agile transport is faster than the Drake and is gone before the battlecruiser looks even to have reacted. If I can catch the Viator alone maybe I have a shot here after all. I follow behind the transport to land near the next customs office, and it's just me and the Viator. I need to decide quickly what to do, and I choose to attack.

I decloak my ship and burn towards the transport, gaining a positive target lock as soon as my recalibration delay ends. I let loose with my launchers, raining missiles on the surprisingly flimsy ship, as I turn to align away from the combat in preparation for the Drake's protection appearing. But the Drake doesn't come, and the Viator is being crushed. It takes only a few volleys for the ship to be consumed by a fireball, at which point the pod flees almost immediately. Still no Drake comes, so I scoop what loot I can carry from the wreck, shooting the planet goo I can't fit in to my hold along with the wreck.

I have more hull-compromising expanded cargoholds for my collection, which explains how I mauled the transport so quickly, as well as a covert operations cloak that doesn't work so well when close to structures like customs offices. And with the ambush complete I activate my own cloak and return to watch the reaction at the tower. The Drake and pod are there, and they are probably going to stay there now. I see no point in waiting here, so I poke my nose through the K162 to high-sec, finding myself in the Domain region but with no motivation for staying there, and return home.

A quick look in the C6 connecting in from the home system sees a Cheetah covert operations boat and a tower on d-scan. The only visible ship in the system is piloted at the only tower present in the system, and as much as I enjoy having cov-ops boats evade me I am not about to waste time watching a ship I can't catch not scouting through systems he's probably already scouted through. I've had some fun and excitement so far, and it doesn't look like there'll be any more for the time being. I'll quit while I'm ahead.

  1. 3 Responses to “Vanquishing a Viator”

  2. Poor, poor Viator...they should have used an Occator for such operations.

    Good job, Penny! :)

    By Afandi on Apr 25, 2012

  3. I always shudder when I hear people fitting a Viator with cargo expanders. Speed! Thats is what I love about Viators. The Occator, now, that can be tunred into a flying brick for planet good collection, if you only wanted the 8000m/3 cargo give or take the Viator had. Although, I have never lost a Viator. Occators yes, they as a agile as a pregnant club footed yak.

    By JamesT on Apr 27, 2012

  4. I am not to wonder why capsuleers make such choices, I am simply pleased to pew pew.

    By pjharvey on Apr 29, 2012

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